Ai Weiwei is perhaps China's most famous artist, and he's been a pretty harsh critic of the Chinese government. And for good reason! China's government is both totalitarian and corporatist, the worst of both worlds. And, true to their nature, they arrested Ai at the Beijing Airport ten days ago, also raiding his studio and seizing computers and papers. No one knows where Ai is right now, and the state has charged Ai with "economic crimes." Don't laugh: American corporations, with all their recent assertions of their "rights" as "persons" in courtrooms across America, aim to make all of us guilty of "economic crimes," too. But the Chinese government is well past due for some serious shame, and in this matter they may be susceptible to a shaming campaign -- they're trying to raise their arts profile, and putting an artist in jail on trumped-up charges is not a widely-accepted way of raising said profile. Change.org, of course, provides the petition.
Yesterday was Equal Pay Day, and (to my surprise) the Paycheck Fairness Act has, apparently, been re-introduced in both Houses of Congress. I say "to my surprise," of course, because it didn't pass the last Congress by 41 filibustering Republican Senators (that's right, even the New England "moderates" did their party's bidding), and there are, er, more Republicans in Congress now. Of course, it shouldn't matter which party our Reps and Senators are in; they're supposed to do our will. And I'm having trouble imagining the American people demanding that our government leave open loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, or fail to prevent retaliation against folks who disclose their salaries to their coworkers. Of course a few Americans really do oppose help for folks they perceive as "other people," but they don't get to run things. Not in my America, at least! The National Women's Law Center provides the contact tool.
Finally, OMB Watch points us to an Economic Policy Institute report which tells us that (are you sitting down?) regulations don't "kill" jobs. I know, I know, I've been saying this for, like, forever, but I've just been appealing to your common sense. The report generally finds that government regulations have no effect on hiring, and that environmental regulations actually have a positive effect on hiring. But the most telling data point, for me, is this one: "Since 2007, the government has published information on how many ‘extended mass job layoffs’ employers attribute to government regulations/intervention...Over this period, only a tiny fraction of such job layoffs (about 0.3% of the 1.5 million of these layoffs each year) were attributed by employers to government regulations/intervention.” And, er, that's the number employers are giving, so it could be an exaggeration -- or it could indicate the wide gap between what employers think and what their nominal advocacy groups think. I'm an optimist, so I'd like to believe it's the latter.